The fourth installment of the Mercedes-Benz Design Essentials series recently took SHARP all the way to the South of France. The reason: so we could get our eyes (and hands) on some special cars in Mercedes’s pipeline. During a visit to the brand’s design centre in Nice, we were introduced to the Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture Concept, the limited-edition Maybach designed by the late Virgil Abloh, and the awe-inspiring Vision AMG. Better yet, select guests were given the opportunity to take a quick spin in the brand’s Vision EQXX, the svelte and streamlined EV that’s capable of covering 1,000 kilometres on a single charge. In fact, it didn’t make a single charging pit stop during the approximately 750 kilometre journey from Stuttgart to the South of France. Impressive, indeed.
The unveilings from the brand over the course of our visit straddled two ends of the spectrum of luxury, and what luxury means to Mercedes-Benz. It was made clear in several conversations that MB is to be considered a luxury brand, much akin to Prada, Louis Vuitton, or or other major luxury houses, rather than as just another German luxury automaker. The play makes sense, and is well aligned with the fact that the brand plans to shave 25% off of its share of entry-level cars in the segment by 2026. In trade, the brand focus in the South of France revolved around limited edition Maybach models — including the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture, of which less than 500 examples will be produced. Rather than partnering with a major luxury fashion label (a tactic we see from time to time in the automotive space), a team of designers and artisans were brought on to the project in order to create a truly unique and fashion-forward interior.
Mercedes-Benz also provided an electrified glimpse into the future if its performance division, as a very early concept prototype of the Vision AMG took centre stage. There had already been rumours circulating about the electrification plan for AMG, and this long and streamlined coupe provides a clear indication that the future of performance involves an EV platform. The futuristic Tron-like machine takes styling cues from the brand’s long-range test mule EQXX, reimagining its lines with a more race/performance aesthetic in mind. Little information was offered during the launch, but it was certainly an interesting sneak peek into where things are going on that end of the spectrum.